It is my great pleasure to welcome a special guest to the blog. I’ve been a fan and follower of C Hope Clark for longer than I can dare guess. She is the founder of Funds for Writers which is an awesome source for grants, publishers, agents, competitions, and jobs in the writing world.
Here to promote her latest novel, Clark has graciously offered to be interviewed for us here at bookblogarama.
Q: Tell us about your writing process. Do you aim for a daily word count, page count, or a couple of scenes each day?
HOPE: When it comes to writing my novels (I write a lot of freelance and editorial material, too), I strive for 1,000 words per day. I go over and under, some days easy and other days like sludging through mud. For instance, I started writing on the current novel on March 2. So by March 31, I need 30,000 words. I’m behind due to the release of the current book, Dying on Edisto, but I have through Sunday to catch up. I keep track on a spreadsheet along with where the 25%, 50% and 75% marks are in the book, because those need to be major turning points. Sounds formulaic, but I don’t get more detailed than that. It helps maintain the pace and avoid the sagging middle so many writers struggle with.
Q: What gave you the inspiration for the book? Is it part of a series?
HOPE: Dying on Edisto is indeed past of a series – book five in the Edisto Island Mysteries. However, it is unique in that it is a crossover book. In other words, the protagonist of this series runs across the protagonist in my other Carolina Slade Mystery Series. The inspiration for this book came from my publisher, who wanted the fan bases for each series to learn more about the opposing series they might not have read. Smart, actually.
The Edisto Island protagonist is Police Chief Callie Morgan who used to be a top-notch Boston detective until the Russian mob killed her husband. She went crazy chasing the killer, took to the bottle, lost her job, and moved herself and son back down South, planting herself on South Carolina’s Edisto Beach, her childhood vacation place. Recognizing the talent, the beach offered her the badge, and there she resides and solves crime. . . crimes most of the lazy beach community never knew it had.
Great detective, but still needs to work on herself.
Enter Carolina Slade, aka Slade because she hates the feminine sound of her first name which says a lot about her from the outset. Originally a Department of Agriculture bureaucrat, she once found herself in the middle of a bribery investigation, and after almost losing her job, family, and life, still decided she loved solving cases. Coupled with federal agent Wayne Largo, whom she met on that case, they travel the state of South Carolina handling department criminal activity. You haven’t seen crime until you see it in the country where you can more easily get away with all types of creative wrongdoing.
You haven’t ever seen crime solved Slade’s way.
The combination turned out to be so much fun to write, though the initial concept scared me to death. To keep the characters true to themselves, I wrote Slade in her stereotypical first person voice, and kept Callie in third. Worked beautifully.
Q: Are you a pantser or a plotter? A bit of both?
HOPE: I handwrite story ideas, a loose sort of outline, for three to five chapters at a time. Then I write the chapters. When I’m out of my handwritten notes, I go back to my porch and bounce ideas until I have enough scribble to go back to the computer for more chapters. I do not know the ending of the book until I’m within eight to ten chapters of it. (My books run about 30 chapters.) I like discovering the plot and unraveling the mystery just one step ahead of the protagonist. To have it all outlined sucks the energy out of the story, in my experience.
I have a notebook reserved for said notes, and a dry erase board on my wall to remind me of the ends that need tying up as well as the long list of characters so I don’t misspell names.
And I read chapters aloud. Every two to three chapters, I go on the porch and read aloud to my husband. At the end of the book, I read the entire manuscript aloud. Sometimes I hire an editor to go over it again, then I send it to my publisher. The publisher then puts it through at least three more detailed edits.
Q: Do you prefer a certain type of music to listen to when you’re writing, or are you better with silence?
HOPE: Dead silence. If I can hear a television, I have to close my door. I used to reserve my fiction for the middle of the night, but when my parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and one parent entered the hospital for eight weeks, I learned I had to rise early and write whenever and wherever. But whenever I write, wherever I write, I much prefer silence so that I can dig deeper. I firmly believe that the best magic happens in silence, when nothing else steals your attention.
Q: What books are you reading now?
HOPE: I try to read at least two novels a month. I’m reading Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier right now. I just finished The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn. I have a TBR stack of forty books, but the next ones appear to be The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro (a YA, female Sherlock Holmes set in modern times….love this series), Behind Her Eyes as well as Cross Her Heart, both by Sarah Pinborough. In my to be Reread stack is The Lewis Man by Peter May and all the Paul Pine Mysteries by Howard Browne (yes, I spent $60 for that book). I like mystery, suspense, and especially love noir. I do not enjoy cozy or romance. I’m a believer in reading what you write to better your craft, and I firmly believe that nobody accidentally plagiarizes another author. It’s black and white – you do or you don’t.
Q: Anything else you’d like us to know about this book or any others (past or future)?
HOPE: Well, the Slade books originated from my own life with agriculture. I met my husband during a briber investigation, where I was offered the bribe and he was the federal agent assigned the case. The roller coaster was so crazy, I felt it deserved a book. . . which became a series.
Callie and the Edisto series originated because the publisher wanted me to diversify my portfolio. I’m glad they pushed me to write it. The Edisto Series does very well in the Carolinas.
There is a third series on the back burner, but I believe that to elaborate on a work-in-progress is to lose its power, so I’ll let folks know more about that one when it’s closer to a release. But….I love it! A female protagonist. . . again. Only she’s a private investigator.
Q: Just for fun, what TV shows or movies have you really enjoyed or disliked recently?
HOPE: My favorite all-time series is Justified. Such fantastic story telling in that one. I binged on every episode, bought the DVDs, and intend to rewatch it one weekend when I want to veg in my recliner. I’m binging on Breaking Bad now, and I adore its plotting, loving the foreshadowing. Fantastic character development. I’ve seen 24 seasons of Midsommer Murders. Very nice series to learn how to plot. I love Lucifer for its dialogue. Terrific one-liners. I enjoy Blacklist for Raymond Reddington, but I can do without his daughter Elizabeth Keen. She has only two or three facial expressions and adds little to the story advancement, but Reddington…God, I love him. Fantastic dialogue lessons to be learned there. I can watch dark FX shows as well as Hallmark stories. I just want good storytelling, and when it rings plastic to me, I’m done with it.
As for movies, I’m a friggin’ comic book lover! Avengers, Marvel, etc. etc. I may not be an aficionado, but I have loved comics since I could read. But when it comes to movies that stick in my head, I can think of Casablanca (the best movie to teach storytelling and dialogue), Gone with the Wind, The Kingsmen (yep, both one and two), and too many others to name. The Maltese Falcon. Almost anything noir. Even Sin City. It’s all about the storytelling.
On behalf of bookblogarama, I want to thank Hope for her time. You can find her at her website: chopeclark.com, her author bio on Goodreads, as well as her social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. And if you don’t already subscribe to Funds for Writers, do yourself a favor and head over there as well for everything related to the writing community.
This is my stop during the book blitz for Counting on You by Laura Chapman. Read on for more information about this book and there’s an US only giveaway. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 27 August till 2 September. See the tour schedule here.
Is love worth the risk?
Math teacher Haleigh Parde has no desire to change her single status until she receives an invitation to her high school reunion. With her ex spreading rumors she needs a date and fast. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Haleigh finds herself meeting a blind date at a neighborhood bar called Amarillo Sour . . .
After watching Haleigh crash and burn, app developer Ian Henning makes her a proposition. If she’ll provide honest feedback on his new dating app, he’ll guarantee her a date to knock the socks off her former classmates. Even better, he—and the other Amarillo Sour regulars—will help her navigate the rocky road of dating.
Through setups ranging from awkward to absurd, Haleigh discovers her matchmaker might just be better than the matches. And Ian wonders if she’s the answer to everything he’s worked for professionally. Or is she something much, much more . . .
You can find Counting on You on Goodreads
About the Author:
Laura Chapman is the author of sweet and sexy romantic comedies. A born and raised Nebraska girl, she loves watching football, traveling, crafting, and baking. When she isn’t writing her next story, she is probably working at a museum by day and binge-watching Netflix with her cats Jane and Bingley at night. So, basically, she’s living large.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Counting on You. One winner will win a Amarillo Sour Starter Kit, that includes two shot glasses, two coasters, a bottle opener and pens with the bar’s logo on them plus a $10 Amazon card. US Only.
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Excerpt from Counting on You
In an effort to mask her embarrassment, she raised the glass to her lips.
“Wait.” He held out his glass to hers. “Here’s to taking chances.”
She could drink to that. She toasted his glass and sipped, appreciating the way the wine both chilled her throat and warmed her chest on the way down.
He drank his beer and set it down. “So, you know I couldn’t help overhearing your date with Patrick.”
“Yeah, we covered that.”
“And I know we only officially met a few minutes ago, but I feel like—what with the eavesdropping and all—we’ve gotten to know each other a little.”
“Or you’ve learned my most embarrassing secret. I only know you develop software and—based on how well you know the lay of the land—you apparently spend a lot of your time hanging out at a bar.”
“Which is pretty much all there is to know about me. Except that I like watching both sports and nerdy TV shows, and that I wish I could have a dog, but my apartment won’t let me.”
“You’re right,” she said. “We’re practically married. Should we spend Christmas with your family or mine?”
He snorted. “Now that we’re friends, and I know that you need a date to your reunion and you’re on a deadline, I wanted to run something by you.”
Her heart fluttered. Was this guy she just met going to help her get a date? No, that was crazy. But maybe he had some advice. She’d been sarcastic when she’d asked for it earlier, but it really couldn’t hurt.
In fact, it might be better coming from a stranger than any of her work friends. It would certainly keep Nina from spreading the details through the rumor mill.
“I’m listening. Not that I know if you have the credentials to give lectures on—”
“It’s not a lecture. And I’m not a dating expert. Well, not exactly. I’m not an expert,” he repeated and cleared his throat. “But I have done a lot of research on dating. Or at least my company has, and I’ve used it for my job.”
“I thought you build apps.”
“We do. Our new app—one that’s coming out next month—is a dating app.”
“Kind of, but not really.” He launched into an explanation about how the app was part game, part matchmaker. That it helped connect people who’d really get along without making the process cumbersome. So far, it sounded good.
But how did she fit into this?
“We’re actually trying to find one more person to try it out.”
Oh. He needed a guinea pig. “Why?”
“We’re close to the launch date. While our feedback has been good, it hasn’t been personal. We haven’t been able to see it from the inside.”
“Why doesn’t one of your employees try it?”
He shook his head. “That’s not objective enough. We need someone who can give us an inside look, while not influencing the outcome. Someone local. Someone who can find a good match that we can brag about to our investors. Someone with a good story.”
Someone desperate enough to give it a try with an audience. Someone like her.
She could see the logic. That didn’t mean she liked where this was going. “So, you want me to try your app and report back.”
Today is the cover reveal for Into the Darkest Night by Cassandra Giovanni. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.
I was born a child of the Elite; destined to live a life of privilege in Sun City.
With one decision I gave it all up.
Ana Jacobs knows the Elite and their depravity all too well. She was one of them once. Her father was a member of the Inner Circle and head of the Trinity funding the corruption of Sun City. When he learned she knew the names of those he’d hidden so well, he turned his back on her; had her kidnapped and tortured to protect his secrets.
When she escapes the island and learns of her father’s death at the hands of a knife-wielding vigilante called the Nightwatchman, she returns to Sun City, vowing to use her knowledge to protect the city. As a city cop, she blends into the background, and no one suspects her real motives.
Levi Bennett knows where Ana’s been. He’s also an Elite, but where Ana was sent to the island, he ended up there by accident. While Ana buries herself in her work and stopping the flow of illegal drugs and weapons into the poverty-stricken Blue District, Levi covers his pain by partying and spending his trust fund on buying bars and restaurants.
Thrown together by Levi’s constant pressing of the limits, the two can’t deny the connection they share through their dark pasts.
Their demons are one in the same, but some demons can’t be tamed.
I’ve been on patrol for two hours, and the most exciting thing I’ve done is help an elderly woman find her car.
“507 located at 222 Star Avenue, White District. Complaint regarding noise.” Comes over the radio, and I can’t help but smile as I put my siren on.
“10-4. Officer 2239 responding.”
The smile disappears from my face as I realize where I’m going. I swear to myself as I turn my sirens off and get out, looking up at the glowing sign.
All the Right Moves.
Of course, Levi Bennett’s bar would have a name like that. The music pulses so loud that the building is practically shaking. I grit my teeth before heading inside. I expect some sort of rave, but when I can actually make out the music, I realize it’s country.
It’s still way too loud, and when my eyes lock on Levi’s, I have a feeling he did it on purpose.
“Someone call the cops?” he shouts over the twang of the acoustic guitar as he comes around the bar and smiles at me. “Or did you just miss me?”
I blink in rapid succession at him, but his smile doesn’t fade. He leans back against the bar and then signals to someone behind me to lower the music.
“I told you the music was too loud,” a voice says from behind me, and my body tenses. “I told him.”
The person stops next to me, and then their mouth drops. “Ana?
Robbie Bisson. Levi’s best friend. My ex, and the last person to see me alive before I disappeared.
The awkwardness only spreads when a woman comes up and wraps her arms around Robbie’s back before putting her cheek on his arm.
Lily Smith. Levi’s girlfriend, and also his ex, by the looks of this.
Levi looks between Robbie and me, his brow furrowing a shadow over his eyes. They’ve taken on a dark blue that makes my palms moist, or maybe it’s just this whole situation or the heat of the bodies dancing behind me.
“You know each other?” Levi asks.
I blink hard as I try to determine what to say. I cock my head at Robbie as his mouth continues to hang open. It doesn’t appear like he’s able to answer, so I do.
“One summer vacation and a lot of tequila.”
“Oh,” Levi says. His tongue slips over his teeth beneath his lips as he glances at Lily, and then away into the crowd.
“You disappeared shortly after that,” Robbie says, rubbing his neck. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
I want to say define okay, but instead, I nod.
His eyes race over mine, and Robbie taps on the bar. He holds up his fingers, four, he signals. “Tequila, right here.”
The bartender puts the glasses down, each making a sharp clinking noise as they hit the modern concrete counter. Then he tosses the bottle behind his back, over his head and from one hand to the other before tipping it up and filling each glass. The movement makes my stomach turn, and my eyes fall to the clear liquid in the glasses.
Robbie was the last person I drank with, too.
“To Levi and Ana. We’re happy to have you both back,” Robbie says, holding his glass in the air to toast. The offer for a drink reminds me why I’m here in the first place.
“Officer 2239, 10-26 at 222 Star Avenue.” I say into my transmitter, and then looking at the time; “Officer 2239 10-10.”
The response only takes a second. “10-4, Officer 2239.”
“Off duty, now?” Levi says, holding out a shot for me.
I narrow my eyes at him before taking it, and we kick back the burning liquid at the same time. I want to cough, but I don’t. I swallow hard instead.
“So, you and Lily?” I ask, pointing between the two of them as the familiar burn settles into my throat. Alcohol isn’t something I’ve missed, and I watch Levi from the corner of my eyes as he shakes his head when the bartender offers more. It’s in direct violation of everything in his files. My fingers tingle, and I pull them into fists at my sides as I look back to Robbie. He nods, and his nose twitches as he signals for the bartender to fill him up. Lily tucks a loose strand behind her ear and shakes her head to the bartender. She shifts from foot to foot as she stares down at her tan and teal cowboy boots.
“Want to dance?” Robbie asks Lily, and her eyes widen with relief.
“Yeah, that sounds great.”
They disappear into the crowd on the dance floor, and I sit on the stool beside Levi, letting my head roll to my shoulder, so I’m looking at him. “Just happened to get too loud tonight?”
He smirks, watching the crowd sway to the music. “Check the business’ file like you did mine, and you’ll see it happens regularly. Our neighbors just aren’t that fun.”
“Mhmm,” I reply as I lean back.
“So, you and Robbie—how did I not know you?” Levi finally asks, changing the subject.
I raise my eyebrows at him, and his hands are in fists, the smile on his lips gone.
“It was after you went missing— but I was around before that – we’re both Elite, well, were. You were just a tad bit engrossed with Lily from what I remember,” I reply.
His eyes drift to the ceiling. “Ah, yeah—that.”
“It must’ve been awkward coming back to…” I don’t know how to put softly your best friend dating your girlfriend. I don’t understand why my throat thickens as I watch his reaction. I shouldn’t care if it bothers him.
Maybe it’s because I get how lonely coming back is. My toes curl in my shoes at the thought. Loneliness is my only friend.
Levi leans forward, pressing his muscular forearms into his knees. “Just a little bit.” His shoulders lift, and his eyes come up to mine, causing an eruption of tingles up my spine. “But they’re good for each other. I’m not who I used to be, so it’s not like it would’ve worked anyway.”
Butterflies erupt out of dormant chrysalis I never thought would be awakened as his eyes flick over my face. The calculated smugness is gone, and the man before me is part the innocent boy I had a crush on all throughout high school and part damaged man that I feel, stupidly–no doubt–that only I could ever understand.
I turn in the stool, so I’m facing the bar. “Do you have anything that doesn’t taste like Windex?”
Levi laughs as he goes behind the divider. He reaches up to the top shelf lined with expensive looking bottles, and his shirt lifts, showing one of the dimples in his back and a pale scar that travels diagonally from it. My eyes follow the line to a tattoo of a kanji—Japanese character—for a skill I’ve yet to master.
Seishinteki kyōyō: spiritual refinement.
Judging by its placement on his back, he has almost as many skill marks as I do. Not only did Levi survive the same hell I did, but he’s received the same training.
Levi Bennett is a Shinobi—a ninja.
Just like me.
About the Author:
Cassandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character’s stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. She writes romance books in various genres, including adult romance, new adult romance and teen romance. She also has several kids books. In addition to being a published author, Cassandra is a successful full-time financial marketer. When she’s not making the characters in her head come to life, she either has her bow and arrows or longboard skateboard in hand. She’s happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England with their daughter Hope and their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.
There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Into the Darkest Night. Three winners will each win an e-copy of Into the Darkest Night. Open International.
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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